M E M O I H
TO ACCOMPANY A
THE PENINSULA OF
SOUTH 0/ TAMPA BAY,
y ' COMPILED BY
LIEUT. J.'^^'C. IVES, TOPOGL. ENGINEEKS,
UNDER THE GENERAL DIRECTION OF
CAPT. A. A. HUMPHEEYS, TOPOGL. ENGINEERS,
BY ORDER OF THE
HON. JEFFERSON DAY IS, SECRETARY OF WAR,
W "^^ ^ -w-A-Pi* X) E 1= -rft. li T ivE E nsr T .
M. B. WYNKOOP, BOOK & JOB PRINTER,
No. 12 A.NN STKEET, NEAR BROADWAY.
18 5 6.
Inland Route from Fort Capron to Fort Jupiter,
Inland Routes from Fort Jupiter to Fort Lauderdale.
Route from Fort Lauderdale to Fort Dallas.
Routes from Fort Dallas to the Western Border of the
Routes through the Big Cypress Swamp.
Routes from the Big Cypress Swamp to the Caloosa-
Route from Fort Thompson to Fort Meade.
Route from Fort Meade to Fort Myers.
Route from Fort Myers to Fort Jupiter.
A CONSIDERABLE portion of the State of Florida, south
of Tampa Bay, is a comparatively unknown region. Its
natural features oppose great obstacles to the prosecution of
surveys and explorations; and, although many have been
from time to time accomplished under the direction of dif-
ferent commanding officers of the troops stationed there, the
results have not all been connected, nor embodied into an
available form. Sketches of the country have been made,
undoubtedly in all cases, by officers who have accompanied
the examinations, and these have subsequently been com-
piled, and, where authority was given for it, published.
The maps thus furnished have, however, been necessarily
constructed upon a scale too small to exhibit more than the
general features of the country, and the lines traversed have
been plotted from surveys made either without instruments
or with those of the roughest description. The written re-
ports, which would give more specific and complete details
and supply information that the surface of a map could not,
have rarely been published, and have existed only in the
archives of the department. They could not therefore be
made available to officers in the field, and would be, under
any circumstances, difficult to refer to ; for, many of them
relating to expeditions undertaken for other objects than the
exploration of the country, the material collected, at different
6 INTRODUCTORY REMARKS.
times, in regard to the topography, would be scattered
throughout numerous and extended reports, embracing other
subjects, and covering a long interval of time. As a large
portion of the region is submerged during some seasons of
the year, trails and other local marks are soon obliterated ;
and, when new troops have been ordered into the country,
they have been obliged to purchase the knowledge, possessed
by their predecessors, with a fresh expenditure of time, hard-
ship and danger. Extensive reconnoissances were made
along the coast and in the interior, during the years 1841
and 1842, at which time the south-eastern and south-western
shores, the Everglades, the Big Cypress Swamp, Lake Okee-
chobee, and the adjacent region, were traversed in various
directions by ofiicers of the army and navy, and much ac-
complished towards the topographical development of the
State. Many similar explorations, some of them attended
with great difficulties, have been recently made, under the
direction of Cols. Munroe and Brown, Second Artillery, by
the ofl&cers of their commands. JViost of these have appeared
to be over an unexamined country, though a comparison of
the reports and sketches with those that were made in 1842
shows that some of the routes passed over at the two periods
must have been nearly identical. Had the parties last in the
field possessed, in a form suitable for reference, all of the in-
formation gathered by those who preceded them, their labors
would probably have been much lightened.
During the compilation of the accompanying map, a num-
ber of reports, made by the officers above referred to, have
been obtained from the Adjutant General's Department, and
it has been thought desirable, from the considerations
mentioned, to extract the topographical information con-
tained in them, and to present it in a connected form. Such
material as could be procured from other reliable sources has
been appended. The short time allowed for the work has
precluded anything like a thorough investigation as to what
is now known of the region in question; those facts only
INLAND ROUTE FROM FORT CAPRON TO FORT JUPITER. 7
being presented whicli were at hand or could without delay
be collected. For convenience of reference and to conform
as nearly as possible to the original reports, the lines of com-
munication referred to in them have been separately taken
up, and in connection with these is mentioned whatever
could be learned concerning the adjacent localities. The
country considered being, for the greater part, a flat expanse,
where the prairie of one day may at another be converted
into a lake, and where the lakes, rivers, swamps and ham-
mocks are subjected to such changes as can be produced by
an additional layer of water of a depth sometimes as great
as three feet, all statements relating to its surface are liable
at times to considerable modifications.
INLAND ROUTE FROM FORT CAPRON TO FORT JUPITER.*
Fort Capron is situated on the west bank of Indian River,
opposite to Indian River Inlet. The site of the post is upon
hard ground, a few feet above the surf\\ce of the water. The
Inlet is open. The bar at its mouth can be crossed by
vessels whose draught is not greater than four and a half
feet. The location is a healthy one at all seasons of the year.
Half a mile back from the Fort runs a small ridge, its general
♦This route was traversed and reported upon by Maj. Prince, U. S. A., in 1P54 and by
Lieut. Hill, First Artillery, in 1855. The description of it here given is an abridgment of the two
reports; the former of which was obtained from the records of the U. S. Coast Survey, and
the latter from the Adjutant General's Department, U. S. A.
8 INLAND KOUTE FROM FORT CAPRON TO FORT JUPITER.
direction being nearly parallel to the line of the coast, ex-
tending northward to the head of Indian Eiver, and south
almost to St. Lucie Point, at the junction of St. Lucie River
with St. Lucie Sound. To this place, about twenty-three
miles below Fort Capron, the river is a straight reach of
water, varying in width from one to three miles, exposed to
the wind, and navigable for full four feet draught. Four
miles and a half from Fort Capron, the ridge above referred
to comes to the water, forming a bank, twenty feet in height,
which is the site of Fort Pierce. The growth on the shore,
between the two forts, is pine. South of the latter post the
ridge is covered with hammock growth, and, two miles below,
rises to the height of forty feet, where is the old Indian
Garden. Along the ridge, in this vicinity, are a few dwell-
ing houses : the inhabitants of these, with the light hou?e
keeper at Cape Canaveral, are the only settlers upon the
coast, from the canal, ninety miles above Fort Capron, to the
Miami River^ more than a hundred miles below.
Nine miles south of the Indian Garden, there is a high
point of the ridge, which is bare and dotted with patches of
white sand, ("bleach yard,") and, two miles below, at Mount
Elizabeth^ pine growth again appears upon the shore ; the
ridge receding towards the St. Lucie River. Between Mount
Elizabeth and Fort Pierce, it borders the river, formijag
a steep high bank, covered with cabbage, palmetto, and
other hammock growth. Along the top is a narrow strip of
cultivable ground, from which there is a rapid descent, in-
land, to an open country, covered with flagponds, savannas,
sawgrass, marshes, and palmetto flats, with a few scattered
From Fort Capron, the beach on the inside is remarkably
serrated, and lined with high mangroves that shut out
the view towards the ocean.
The St. Lucie flows between banks formed of coquina*
♦ A concrete of shells.
INLAND ROUTE FROM FORT CAPRON TO FORT JUPITER. 9
rocks and rising about six feet above the water's edge.
Along these is a growth of palmettos, and the neigbborhood
is a famous resort for turkies and the manatee.
Upon leaving St. Lucie point two openings present them-
selves. The one to the left is that which is to be followed;
being the entrance to the Jwpiter Narrows. This entrance is
opposite to Gilbert's Bar, which is now closed, as there is
little more than one foot of water upon it at the highest tides.
Following the channel somewhat over a mile, it opens into a
bay three-quarters of a mile broad, and about two miles in
length ; the western shore of which must be coasted till a
narrow opening, not exceeding twenty feet in width, is per-
ceived. This baj'ou continues but a short distance before it
is joined by another, somewhat wider, from the right.
The Narrows are exceedingly tortuous, winding in large
bends through swamps grown up with, lofty mangroves full
sixty feet in height, whose branches nearly meet from the
opposite sides of the stream. The water is of considerable
depth, and the current strong, setting either way with the
wind, the prevailing direction of which along this portion of
the coast, for six months of the year, is south east. The
Narrows extend about six miles, terminating at Hole Sound.
At this point lies an extensive oyster bed, that precludes the
passage of boats drawing more than three feet.
Hobe Sound is skirted on the west by high hills covered
with oak scrub, while the beach that borders the opposite
side is a thick hammock that extends four and a half miles
to the south. Where the hammock ends, there is a narrow
place in the sound, occasioned by a sharp point of mangroves
which puts out from the west shore from near the base of a
hill, sixty feet in height, that rises rapidly from the water.
This place is called Couch's har, and the greatest depth of
water upon it is about three feet.
The Sound is sufficiently exposed to the wind to admit of
the use of sails, and in most places is easily navigated by
vessels of four feet draught. It extends for eight miles to
10 INLAND ROUTES FKOM FORT JUPITER
Jupiter River^ from the mouth of which it is about two and
a half miles to the site of Fort Jupiter.
The total distance from Fort Capron to Fort Jupiter, is
about forty miles. The Mackinac boats, sometimes employed
upon this route, are said to be unsuitable for the transporta-
tion of troops and supplies between the two posts; having to
lay by during a hard wind, and under the most favorable
circumstances requiring four days to accomplish the trip.
The kind of vessel recommended, as likely to be most ser-
viceable, is a small sloop, not drawing over three feet when
loaded, and made after the pattern of the old s urf boats,
used, during the Mexican war, at Vera Cruz.
INLAND ROUTES FROM FORT JUPITER TO FORT
Old Fort Jupiter stands upon the southern shore of Jupiter
Elver, about three miles from the bar at the mouth of the
Inlet. It is upon the western point, formed by the junction
of Jupiter River and Jones's Creek^ a stream that rises three
or four miles to the south. The land in the immediate vi-
cinity is grown up with thick scrub, and is bare of timber.
The back country is a high pine region, through which the
* The information here given is taken from a. journal kept by Lieut. Humphreys, Topogra-
phical Engineers, while passing over the line, in company with Capt. Wade's command, in
1H41. The description of the localities in the immediate neighborliood of Fort Jupiter, is
from the reports, already referred to, of Major Prince, and Lieut, Hill, First Artillery.
TO FORT LAUDERDALE.
old road to Fort Von Swearingen may still be distinctly
traced. Half a mile distant from the old Fort, upon the
eastern point made by the creek and river, is the new post,
now called Fort Jupiter. Here the pine land is still niore
elevated, and continues so for five miles back; the timber
coming down to the water's edge, and the water itself being
of sufficient depth for small boats, close in to the shore.
Abundance of wood, suitable for building purposes, can be
conveniently obtained. The soil is fertile. There is an ex-
cellent anchorage, and a good place for loading and unload-
ing boats, making the site of the present Fort preferable to
that of the old one, or any other location in the vicinity.
Objections exist to it now as a military position, from the
fact that the Inlet is closed, and the post rendered inaccessi-
ble, from the sea, to the smallest coasting vessels. The clos-
ing of the inlet causes the locality— at other times salubrious
—to be an unhealthy one ; the water on the inside of the bar
then becoming fresh, and inducing a rapid growth of vege-
table matter, which, decaying, taints the atmosphere and en-
genders disease. The alternate opening and closing of this
inlet is somewhat remarkable. Between the years 1840 and
1844, it was closed. At the latter period, Capt. Davis, the
mail carrier from Fort Capron to Cape Florida, endeavored,
with a party of four men, to excavate a channel. After
digging for several hours, they succeeded by nightfall in
starting outward a stream of water four inches in depth.
Upon this they desisted from labor and went to their camp,
which was some fifty feet from the ditch. The river inside
was unusually high, from a freshet in the everglades, and a
strong north wind was blowing. At night, the sleeping par-
ty were awakened by a flood of water, and had to abandon
their camp equipage and run for their lives, barely escaping
being carried out to sea. The next day there was a channel
nearly a quarter of a mile wide, and the rush of water could
be traced far out upon the ocean.
The inlet stayed open till 1847, when it closed till 1853,
l2 INLAND ROUTES FROM FORT JUPITER
during which year it opened itself, but remained in that con-
dition only a short time. In 1855, Maj. Haskin, First Artill-
ery, in command of the post, endeavored again to clear the
channel. Sand hills of considerable size, which had accumu-
lated, were cut through, and the attempt would doubtless
have been successful but for the low condition of the water
during that unusually dry year. A small amount of labor
expended under favorable circumstances would, in all proba-
bility, eifectually open this inlet, and render the harbor one
of the best upon the eastern coast. At times it has admitted
vessels drawing eight feet, and the entrance is protected from
north winds by a ledge of rocks.
Tioo inland ivater routes have been explored, between Forts
Jupiter and Lauderdale; one, very near to the coast, and the
other, some miles towards the interior. These were traversed,
during the month of December, IS-tl, by Capt. Wade, with
a command of eighty men. Both of the routes leave Jupiter
Eiver b}^ Lake Worth creek^ the mouth of which is a mile
and a half below the post. This stream, like most of the
rivers in Florida, is exceedingly crooked, and, where it emp-
ties into Jupiter River, is one hundred yards wide, and
several feet in depth. It runs almost due north, with a
strong current. Pine barren lines either bank for five miles,
when on the east side a growth of sawgrass commences, ex-
tending to the sea shore, which is about two miles distant.
On the west the pine barren continues, but recedes a quarter
of a mile back from the creek, which, at this place, is only
forty feet wide.
Two miles higher up, the two routes to Fort Lauderdale
diverge. The stream being no longer navigable — except at
YQry high water, when there is sometimes a practicable chan-
as far as Lake Worth — it is necessary, in following the coast
route, to pull the boats three-quarters of a mile in a south-
easterly direction, through a sawgrass pond, to a haulover,
four hundred yards across, which leads to the head of the
TO FORT LAUDERDALE. 13
lake. Over this haulover, Capt. Wade's command, with
seventeen canoes, was three hours in passing.
Lake Worth is a pretty sheet of water, about twenty milps
long and three quarters of a mile in width ; bounded on the
west by pine barren, and on the east by the sand hills of the
beach, which are sometimes twelve or fifteen feet in height,
and covered with cabbage trees, wild figs, mangroves, saw
palmettos, &c., with here and there a variety of the cactus.
In the centre of the lake, a mile and a half from the head,
is an island, bearing a tree resembling the wild fig in appear-
ance, with a fruit like the olive in shape and size, of a yellow
color when ripe, and used by the Indians as food. A deli-
cate running vine is also here found, yielding a vegetable
about three quarters of an inch long, with a flavour similar
to that of the cucimiber. Opposite to the middle of the
island is a haulover, only eighty yards across, descending
twelve feet to the sea, at an angle of fortj^-five degrees. Two
miles and a half beyond is another haulover, one hundred
yards in width. Below, along the eastern border of the
Lake, are long strips of cultivable ground about two hun-
dred yards wide, separated from the beach by ponds and wet
prairie. These were formerly tilled by the Indians, who
had large villages in the neighborhood. The soil is light,
but very rich, being almost entirely vegetable mould. Kock
occasionally makes its appearance on the surface, and heaps
of sea shells are strewn here and there. The country on the
west side would afford fine grazing.
Six miles from the last haulover, on the west side of the
Lake, is Chachi's landing. A broad trail, half a mile in length,
formerly led from this place over a spruce scrub towards the
villages of the Indians whose gardens were upon the opposite
side of Lake Worth, which they reached by hauling their
canoes over the trail. The last fields were five miles from
the foot of the Lake. A small creek forms the outlet at the
southern point ; along which, at ordinary stages of the water,
boats can be paddled for only a quarter of a mile. They can
14 INLAND ROUTES FROM FORT JUPITER "
then be pushed along the creek to its head, half a mile beyond,
where commences asawgrass marsh through which they have
to be hauled. Half a mile of hauling brings to a small clump
of palmettos that can be seen for some miles and serves for a
landmark. Another mile through the sawgrass conducts to
a lagoon along which boats may be paddled for a, third of a
mile; the lagoon widening into a little pond that is only a
hundred and fifty yards distant from the sea. The ground
rises abruptly twelve or fifteen feet and then descends rapidly
to the surf. Under the mould which is but a few inches deep,
there is rock, three or four feet thick; in one place rup-
tured, forming a cave of twenty feet front, and extending back
fifteen feet ; the bottom covered with water. Palmettos of
enormous size and Spanish bayonets grow in the vicinity.
Near by is an old haulover, used by the Indians in moving
from Lake Worth to gather Koontee^ which grows in abun-
dance on the pine barren to the west. A narrow sluggish
sort of creek, five feet deep, extends from the pond for a quar-
ter of a mile, over which distance canoes may be pushed.
More than a mile of sawgrass marsh is then to be traversed
before reachini? the Little HilUboro.
The head of this creek is very narrow : wide enough to
allow a canoe to lie in it, but not to be turned around. The
banks are eighteen inches high, formed of snail shells and
black mould. The prairie is three quarters of a mile wide
and covered with thick grass. Canoes have to be pushed
along for a mile and a quarter, when the stream becomes
sufliciently wide to admit of paddling. A quarter of a mile
below is Orange Orove Haulover. A small mound marks the
spot, and among the trees that grow in the neighborhood are
a few wild oranges which give the place its name. The dis-
tance to the sea is about three hundred y.nrds.
It required five days of hard labor for the eighty men in
* A vegetable somewhat resembling a large parsnip, from which, when it is reduced to a
pulp and washed, a substance like arrow root is obtained. The juice is said to have poison-
TO FORT LAUDERDALE. 15
Capt. Wade's command to haul tlieir seventeen canoes from
the foot of Lake Worth to Orange Grove Haulover ; the
whole distance being but six miles. Twenty men were
needed, in some places, to pull a single canoe. In the saw-
grass marshes they would sink into the soft mud a foot deep
at every step, and sometimes up to their middles ; the matted
grass interposing an additional and even more troublesome
obstacle to their progress.
For two miles from the haulover the Little Hillsboro winds
through the prairie ; the width of the stream increasing grad-
ually from seven to fifty feet. To the east grow palmettos,
mangroves and wild figs, and on the west there is a pine bar-
ren, with palmettos and occasional thickets. A belt of man-
groves, one hundred feet broad, with openings to the pine
country behind, then skirts the western bank for five miles.
The river opens twice into small lakes, and increases in width
to one hundred feet, when it joins Boca Ratones.
This sheet of water is a mile and a half wide and three
quarters of a mile long. The sand bank which separates it
from the sea is, in one place, only a hundred yards wide.
Here there was once an inlet. The timbers of a ship lie buried
in what was formerly the channel. It is said b}^ the Indians
that many years ago a wrecked vessel drifted on to the bar,
and, being left there by the receding tide, formed a nucleus
about which the sand collected and closed the mouth of the
The creek that forms the southern outlet from Boca Ea-
tones is twenty feet wide; mangroves growing along the
banks, whose pendant roots obstruct, to some extent, the
passage of boats ; which, as the creek narrows, have to be
finally hauled for a distance of two and a half miles along a
small and very crooked channel. This conducts to the north
branch of the Hillsboro, a stream fifty feet broad, lined with
mangroves, and increasing in size to its mouth, five miles
distant, where it is about a quarter of a mile in width.
Hillsboro Inlet runs south for a mile ; leaving a ridge of
16 INLAND ROUTES FROM FORT JUPITER
sand, three hundred feet wide, between it and the Ocean.
It narrows very much towards the entrance, affording a pass-
age for row-boats only. The depth of water on the bar at
low tide is about two feet. Five hundred yards from the
bar the river can generally be forded ; the water being three
feet in depth. A third of a mile from the mouth a small
creek comes in from the south. For nearly half a mile its
sides are lined with mangroves ; the stream gradually nar-
rowing from thirty to twenty feet, and running between
banks two feet in height. A mile and a half be3^ond is the
head, and here it is so narrow as scarcely to afford room for
the passage of a canoe. A grassy prairie, a mile wide and
two miles and a half long, sometimes dry and sometimes
with a few inches of water upon it, leads to the head of
another small creek. Pine barren still continues upon the
western side. At a distance of three miles the creek enters
into New Biver, on the eastern side of which — four miles
distant — is the site of Fort Lauderdale.
The second inland ivater route from Fort Jupiter to Fort
Lauderdale, as has been already stated, diverges from the one
just described, at the point where the latter leaves Lake
Worth Creek. An extensive sawgrass pond or marsh ex-
tends from this place, twelve and a-half miles south, to Cha-
chi's Village, which is a mile and a-half west of Lake Worth,
Lagoons of deep water, covered with spatterdocks, are here
and there to be met with. In inany places, canoes have to
be pushed and hauled, but at others the water expands into
grassy lakes, a quarter of a mile in extent, and generally
from one to two miles apart. To the east can be seen a
growth of spruce with some pines, and to the west, a line of
cypress bordering the pine barren back of it. Capt. Wade's
command were two days in going from Fort Jupiter to Cha-
chi's Village. The site of this is upon a pretty island,
bounded on the north and east by a deep clear pond half a
mile wide, and between a mile and a-half and two miles long.
On the west and south it is surrounded by the grassy lake.
FORT LAUDERDALE. 17
The trail to Lake Worth leads, a third of a mile, to a small
pond, a quarter of a mile across, on the opposite side of
which is the hanlover. Westward, a trail runs from the vil-
lage to the swamp bordering the Everglades, the eastern
boundary of the former being about seven miles distant.
Capt. Wade's command examined this trail at a time when
the water was rather low, and did not attempt to take the
canoes over, as it would have been necessary to haul them
a mile and a-half over perfectly dry and rather rough ground.
There were indications that it had been frequently traversed
in boats during high water. The grassy lake was followed
by the explormg party two miles and a half to the north-
west. For the last quarter of a mile the water was but a few
inches deep. A dry pine barren, more than a mile across,
through which runs the wagon-road from Fort Jupiter to
Fort Lauderdale, forms the boundary of the lake. Beyond
this is a small pond, and an eighth of a mile farther a string
of them, deep enough to paddle in, and generally not more
than forty feet apart. At the end of half a mile the water
again overspreads the surface of the ground to the depth of
two feet ; dotted with small islands of cypress and pine.
Leaving Chachi's Village, and travelling six miles a little
east of south through the grassy lake, where the water con-
tinues about two feet in depth, the pine barren to the west is
again encountered at a point where the lake makes into it for
a short distance. Turning to the Avest, at the end of a mile
of alternate water and dry land, a series of ponds is arrived
at. When the water is high, canoes can cross to the Ever-
glades at this place without difficulty. At ordinary stages
of the water, some of the haulovers between the ponds are
three hundred feet across; others not more than forty or
fifty, and the ponds themselves, at such times, too short to
admit of canoes being paddled in them. The labor of haul-
ing is excessive. Five miles beyond, there is a belt of cypress
marsh, three hundred yards wide, with plenty of water, but
18 ROUTES FROM FORT JUPITER TO FORT LAUDERDALE.
requiring the constant use of the axe to clear a passage for
canoes. An open space of a hundred yards then leads to a
broad boat-trail through a thin cypress growth. This con-
tinues, four miles, to a kind of haulover, where the cypress
trees are of large size, and there is no water at most seasons
of the year. This haulover, which is but four hundred yards
in width, Capt. Wade's men were five hours in crossing ;
sinking sometimes several feet into the soft red mud, and
having to cut a way through the cypress roots and branches,
which, in a tangled mass, obstructed the way and endangered
the safety of the canoes. A mile beyond the haulover the
Everglades commence. The route continues about thirty-five
miles along the eastern border to the head of Snook Creek,
which may be followed to Fort Lauderdale. Capt. Wade
was two days in reaching the fort after entering the Ever-
At very high stages of the water, many of the difficulties
met with in examining the two routes now mentioned would
be obviated, but it is not probable that, under any circum-
stances, either would be selected, were the object merely to
pass from one post to the other. The mail is carried from
Fort Jupiter to Cape Florida, down the strand ; the interve-
ning waters being crossed on rafts when too deep for wading.
Small parties can follow the beach in this way during some
seasons of the year, but it would not be a practicable route
for the transportation of troops or supplies. The only one
available for this purpose is the wagon-road already alluded
to. This road was opened many years ago. It follows the
pine barren, which extends almost uninterruptedly, a few
miles from the coast, from Fort Jupiter to Key Biscayne Bay.
No itinerary of the route has been met with.
ROUTE FROM FORT LAUDERDALE TO FORT DALLAS.
Old Fort Lauderdale is on the right bank of the west branch
of New Biver, a little more than a mile from its mouth. The
blanch rises in the Everglades five or six miles to the west of
the Fort, and runs nearly east through cypress and pine bar-
ren. Part of the way it flows between steep rocky banks.
Its average depth is about four feet. It is forty feet wide at
its source, and about one hundred yards wide at its junction
with the main river. Opposite this place, on the sand bar
which separates New River from the ocean and which is but
a few hundred yards wide, is the site of Fort Lauderdale.
The location is healthy at all seasons. It can be approached
by small vessels. When formerly occupied by troops it re-
ceived supplies by a haulover from the Atlantic. The ordinary
mode of communication between Forts Lauderdale and Dallas
is by water. New River, opposite to the former post, is about
three hundred yards wide and four or five feet deep. It runs
parallel to the coast, in most places only four or five hundred
yards from it. The water upon the bar at low tide is but
little over two feet in depth. From thence to Fort Dallas by
sea it is about twenty three miles.
A wagon road, a few miles inland, is laid down upon some
sketches of the vicinity. It leaves the west branch of New
River at the site of the old Fort, and runs nearly parallel to
the coast, passing to the west of a sawgrass marsh which ex-
tends some miles to the south. It follows, throughout its
whole extent, a dry belt of country grown up with pine, pal-
metto, and koontee, and crosses three streams ; the Boca Ra-
tones, Arch Creek — which is spanned by a natural bridge — and
Little River. The whole distance by land, from Fort Lauder-
dale to Fort Dallas, is about twenty five miles.
ROUTES FROM FORT DALLAS TO THE WESTERN BORDER
OF THE EVERGLADES.
Fort Dallas is situated on the north side of Miami River,
at its mouth. Its excellent harbor and salubrity render the
location a good one, and, as a military position, it is one of
the most important in the state. The country in the imme-
diate vicinity, along the coast and towards the interior,
between Key Biscayne Bay and the Everglades, is a great
resort of the Indians. It furnishes a large portion of their
supply of koontee, and is one of their favorite hunting grounds ;
besides being the only place where they can pursue a contra-
band trade. It is the starting point of most of the trails which
lead to the western border of the Everglades, and to the Indian
settlements in the Big Cypress Swamp.
Ascending the Miami Eiver two miles and a half to where
it forks, and then keeping up the southern branch two miles
further, a place is arrived at, called Adams' Landing, which
is upon the eastern edge of the Everglades.
Ihe Everglades of Florida cover an area of about four
thousand square miles ; embracing more than one half of the
portion of the State south of Lake Okeechobee. The sub-
soil of this vast region is coralline limestone. Upon the
surface of this, which is very rough and irregular, lies an
immense accumulation of sand, alluvial deposits, and decayed
vegetable matter ; forming a mass of quicksand and soft mud,
from three to ten feet or more in depth, that overspreads all
but a few points of the first stratum. Upon the mud rests a
sheet of water, the depth varjdng with the conformation of
the bottom ; but seldom, at dry seasons, greater than three
feet. The whole is filled with a rank growth of coarse and
tough grass, from eight to ten feet high, having a sharp ser-
ROUTES FROM FORT DALLAS ACROSS THE EVERGLADES. 21
rated edge like a saw, from which it obtains its name of
sawgrass. In many portions of the Everglades this sawgrass
is so thiek as to be impenetrable, but is intersected by
numerous narrow and tortuous channels that form a kind of
labyrinth, where outlets present themselves in every direction ;
most of them, however, terminating, at longer or shorter
distances, in an impassable barrier of grass, mud and quick-
sand. The surface water is quickly affected by rains ; the
alternate rising and falling during wet seasons being very
rapid. The difference of level between the highest and
lowest stages of water is from two to three feet. The general
surface of the Everglades is therefore subject to great changes;
the character of marshy lake or mud flat predominating
accordmg to the wetness or dryness of the season. It is
probable that, sometimes, more than one half of the surface
has no water upon it. Besides the mud islands, small keys
are here and there met with which are dry at all seasons.
Upon these the soil is very rich. There are many such, un-
doubtedly, that are often made the sites of Indian gardens.
In some places, they will be grown up with bushes, appearing
in the distance like a continuous wood, and occasionally there
are clumps of pine, cabbage palmetto, cypress, and live oak.
In the year 1855 Capt. Dawson, First Artillery, made two
explorations into the Everglades. The first was undertaken
during the month of March, which is one of the dryest of the
year ; June and October being ordinarily the rainy months.
After leaving Adams' landing, the water at first was very shal-
low, but, in five miles, increased in depth to twenty inches,
so that the canoes could be poled along instead of being drag-
ged. The general direction was west, though the route was
extremely winding and circuitous, so much so that at one time
when the leading canoe was nearly a mile in advance of the
rear one by the trail, it was only fifty yards distant from it
in a direct line. At the end of eighteen miles it was found
that the usual course to the western side was impracticable,
and an attempt was made to go around towards the south.
22 ROUTES FROM FORT DALLAS ACROSS THE EVERGLADES.
During the latter part of the second day, long mud banks
were encountered, in which the men sank to their middles
while dragging their boats. The course through the inter-
vening ponds was greatly obstructed by fungi, clumps of
trees and bushes, and innumerable keys could be seen in all
directions ; the ground everywhere, however, being boggy
and wet. The third day, the water became in many places
too shoal to float the canoes ; the breaks between the ponds
were of greater extent, and the men were annoyed by the
sawgrass cutting their feet and limbs while forcing a way
along. On the fourth day all of the difficulties increased ;
breaks occurring two or three hundred yards in length, grown
up with old sawgrass, and without water. The ponds were
but a few yards across and filled with fungi. The keys were
smaller, lower, and fewer in number. At the end of the day
the command had reached a point forty-three miles by the
trail, and twenty-seven and a half miles in a direct line, from
Adams' landing, when all progress was barred by a sea of
tall sawgrass, extending as far as the eye could reach ; occa-
sional small keys being seen, but no water.
A second exploration by Capt. Dawson was undertaken
during the month of June, at which time the surface
water was more than a foot deeper than before. After six
days of difficult and laborious exertion he succeeded in
attaining a point a few miles north-east of Prophet's Land-
ing^ where fu.rther advance was stopped by the want of
water. The edge of the Big Cypress was approached to
within three miles, but it was impossible to get any nearer.
The distance in a direct line from Fort Dallas to the place
where the party turned back was fifty -three miles. By the
trail it was estimated to be one hundred and twenty miles.
For eighteen miles of this distance, the canoes had to be
dragged through the mud and sawgrass.
In December, 1841, the command of Major Childs crossed,
in four days, from Fort Dallas to Prophet's and Waxy
Hadjo's landing, and afterwards recrossed the Everglades to
ROUTES FROM FORT DALLAS ACROSS THE EVERGLADES. 23
Fort Lauderdale in about the same time. The first line passed
over was undoubtedly the same as that traversed by Capt.
Dawson, but no such obstacles were encountered as were ex-
perienced by the latter. There appears to have been at that
time a passage for canoes without having to resort to haul-
ing. The Indian guide who accompanied Capt. Dawson
stated that the country was greatly changed since he had
crossed it sixteen years before, and that the keys were larger
and more numerous. Settlers, who have resided upon the
Miami Eiver for ten or twelve years, assert that the gradual
filling up of the Everglades has been very perceptible. It
would be reasonable to infer from the nature of the country
that this must have been the case. The filling up appears
to have been greatest towards the north and west; the
southeastern portions always containing most water. The
late examinations would seem to establish the fact that, at
present, during dry seasons, the Everglades are impassable.
Only during high stages of the water would it be possible to
cross. Even then the passage would be attended with great
It has been suggested that a direct route for canoes might
be cut, through the sawgrass and mud banks, from Fort
Dallas to one of the western landings of the Everglades,
which would make it possible to pass, at ordinary seasons,
from one place to the other, besides shortening the travelling
distance some sixty-five miles. It has not yet been proved,
however, whether such an undertaking would be practica-
ble; or, even could it be accomplished, whether — consider-
ing the rapid growth of vegetable matter — the improvement
would be at all permanent.
ROUTES THROUGH THE BIG CYPRESS SWAMP.*
Much of the country in the vicinity of the Big Cypress
Swamp possess^ similar features to it, and has been, upon
nearly all of the maps, included within its boundary. The
region in question derives its importance from the fact that it
has for a long period been a principal seat of operations
against the Seminole Indians, to whom, its peculiar advan-
tages for subsistence, concealment and defence, render it a
favorite resort. It forms the western boundary of the Ever
glades as far north as Waxy Iladjo^s Landing^ from which
place it runs north-west and west to within six miles of the
OkoloacoocJiee ; extending then south-east to AssunivaJi's
Town^ and thence in an irregular line, south of south-west, to
a point four miles south-east of Boivlegs' Old Town ; thence
nearly west, crossing the Okoloacoochee, to Old iort Foster,
and from there, west south-west, nearly to the coast. There
is considerable cypress growth in the adjoining swampy
land excluded by this boundary, but it does not predominate.
Between the Okoloacoochee and the north-western limit of
the swamp, the country is prairie, dotted over in the southern
part with pine islands, and, in the northern, with clumps of.
maple and swamp-ash bushes, with occasional cabbage and
live oak. In the distance, these resemble a continuous line
of cypress swamp, but can be distinguished from it — in win-
ter — by their light greyish color ; cypress having a reddish
tinge, and — in summer — by the deeper shade of the green of
the bushes. Pine can easily be detected among others by its
very deep shade of green.
* This region was traversed and explored in every direction by Major Hays and Lieut.
Hartsuff, 2nd. Artillery, during the early part of the year 1S5.5. The information here given
In regard to it has been obtained from the reports of these oflBcers.
BOUTES THROUGH THE BIG CTBRESS SWAMP. 25
The north-east corner of the swamp, from a line running
west from Fort Shackelford^ till it meets one running south
from Old Depot No. 2, is quite open, containing one large and
several small prairies. Along the line running south are
large numbers of live oak hammocks, many of which have
been cultivated. They are all small; few being iiiore than
one or two acres in extent, and none exceeding five. Cab-
bage-trees are abundant. The country is comparatively
high, and is altogether admirably adapted to the Indians. It
is so open that wagons can be driven anywhere in it during
the dry season, but in the wet season it is covered with water
and the ground is boggy. South of the line running west,
the cypress is more dense, and the land lower : the open
spaces are less frequent and not above high water. Wagons
can be taken in only a few places, and to short distances
south. Packmules can traverse the southern portion of it
during dry seasons, but even then with much labor and difi&-
culty. At wet seasons it is totally impassable. Concerning
the southern and south-western part of the Big Cypress, little
is known ; few exploring parties having ever passed through
it. It is probable that most of it is impracticable, even for
the Indians, at all seasons of the year. Over the northern
and north-eastern part, Indian trails run in all directions and
to every field, garden and hedge. Whenever, in the course
of explorations, these trails have been deviated from, great
difficulties or impassable obstacles have been encountered.
The 0]<:oloacoochee. already referred to, is a long con-
tinuous kind of marsh or wet prairie, heading a few miles
southeast of Fort Thompson, varying in width from a few
hundred yards to two or three miles, and running in a gen-
eral southerly direction to near the southern edge of the Big
Cypress. For the first few miles the character of wet prairie
predominates. For the next twelve, to the point where
Capt. Ker's route crosses it, it is a succession of boggy
marshes, small lakes, lily ponds, cypress swamps, cabbage
26 ROUTES THROUGH THE BIG CYPRESS SWAMP.
and oak hammocks, connected, and entirely impassable, even
at dry seasons, for man or horse. Between Capt. Ker'a
route and Fort Keais, after passing through a cypress
swamp one or two miles in extent, it becomes a low wet
marsh bprdered in places by maple and swamp ash. From
Fort Keais south, as far as it has been explored, its banks
are lined by dense cypress extending some distance back on
either side. There is no practicable channel north of Fort
Keais, excepting a short one in the swamp already alluded
to. There are but two crossing places ; one at the intersec-
tion of Capt. Ker's route, where the Okoloacoochee is very
narrow, and the other about five miles farther south.
A mile from the former crossing, in a grove of pines, is
the site of Fort Simon Drum. Eoutes diverge from this post
to almost every part of the Big Cypress. Their general
character is so much the same as scarcely to require a special
description. The three principal roads, from which most of
the others branch, lead to Fort Shackelford, to Temporary
Depot No. 1, and to old Fort Foster or Temporary Depot
The first of these (Capt. Ker's route) can be traversed by
wagons as far as Fort Shackelford, during the dry season ;
places being occasionally met with that are boggy and some-
what diflicult to cross. Oak and pine islands are seen about
six miles to the north of the road; often appearing in the
distance like an unbroken line of forest. Fort Shackelford
was built in 1855. The blockhouse is situated upon a pine
island one mile from Waxy Hadjo's landing, near the edge
of the Everglades, and just within the swamp. The country
to the south and southwest has been much and recently
occupied by Indians. Some of the villages are quite large.
* No traces of old Fort Foster have been discovered during late explorations, but a com-
parison of the old with recent maps and reports would seem to prove that the sites of these
two forts must be very near to each other, If not identical.
ROUTES THROUGH THE BIG CYPRESS SWAMP. 27
Sayn Joneses — three miles and a half west southwest — con-
taining twenty huts, and Fustenuggee Chopko's — five miles
and a half south — double that number. This last village is
on a pine island, and occupies one of the highest points of
ground that has been found in the whole swamp. The ap-
proaches to it are diflicult. It cannot be reached at all with
wagons, and only with great trouble by packmules. There
are other villages of good size not far distant. The time and
labor required to explore southwest from Fort Shackelford
caused the post to be abandoned, as unsuitable for operations
in that vicinity. An attempt was made to follow south,
along the edge of the Big Cypress, between it and the Ever-
glades, but boggy marshes and dense cypress barred all pro-
gress in that direction.
The road from Fort Simon Drum to Temporary Depot
No. 1, leads in a southerly direction along the edge of the
Okoloacoochee, for nearly four miles, to the crossing, and
thence eastwardly, over a portion of the country not in-
cluded within the limits of the Big Cypress. This is prairie,
interspersed with small hammocks, and entirely covered
with water at wet seasons ; the southern portion being a suc-
cession of marshes and ponds. Wagons, during the dry sea-
son, can go as far as the Depot. In an ordinarily wet season,
the crossing of the Okoloacoochee, and of some of the ponds to
be met with during the latter part of the distance, would be
difl&cult. Unless the water were very high packmules might
be brought to Bowlegs' Town, which is three miles beyond
the Depot in a southeasterly direction. Farther south than
this a Depot could not be established. The cypress swamp
near by and to the north of this vicinity is quite dense,
though it is nowhere continuous. Patches of prairie, clumps
of pine, cabbage and oak, and brush hammocks are scattered
throughout its whole extent. At certain seasons it is almost
entirely submerged. The country west of Bowlegs' Town
does not appear to have been recently inhabited by Indians.
28 ROUTES TiffROUGH THE BIG CYPRESS SWAMP.
From Fort Simon Drum to Temporary Depot No. 2, the
road leads through prairie, pine barren and strips of cypress
swamp. It is rendered crooked by avoiding diSereat ob-
structions, but can be easily traversed with wagons during
the dry season. Several trails are laid down upon the old
maps, leading south and southwest from the Depot to Malco
Hiver, but the recent attempts to explore in this direction
have not been successful ; perhaps owing to the higher state
of the water in the swamps. Two positions in the neigh-
borhood of the Depot are designated as good sites for posts ;
one, four miles northeast of it, and the other, four miles
north, on the road to Fort Simon Drum, between the head
of the Cypress swamp which extends to the south, and the
extensive prairie which commences three hundred yards dis-
tant, and reaches north to Choalapulka.
There are certain obstacles to a campaign in the Big
Cypress at all times. In the pine woods, the palmettos often
grow so thick and large that horses cannot travel among
them, nor men without great trouble ; and, in the swamps,
the thick cypress trees, the underbrush hammocks, and the
boggy ground form equal or greater obstructions. During
the dry seasons, however, operations can be conducted with-
out important difficulties. Cavalry can operate to advantage
throughout most of the region, though some of the swamps
and thickets would have to be penetrated on foot. By skirt-
ing the cypress, openings can almost always be found ; the
rule being tliat where the cypress is small the ground is firm,
and, on the contrary, where the trees are large, the ground
is soft and boggy, and covered with thick undergrowth.
Large pine trees indicate a thick growth of large palmetto,
and small pine the reverse. Water can always be obtained
by digging from two to six feet, and pine islands may be
found in every direction at convenient distances to camp
upon. Troops can march with comparative ease upon all of
the well marked trails, and horses travel over without much
difficulty. Off the trails it is almost impossible to go in any
ROUTES FROM THE BIG CYPRESS TO THE CALOOSAHATCHEE. 29
direction. When saturated with water, the ground becomes
either quicksand or boggy. A campaign over the Big
Cypress, during the wet season, would be utterly imprac-
For agricultural purposes the whole region may be con-
sidered worthless; the few small and scattered hammocks
being the only portions susceptible of cultivation.
To the Indian it possesses valuable resources. The means
of subsistence are inexhaustible. If debarred from cultivat-
ing his garden or raising stock ; fish, game and fruits supply
abundant food. The cabbage trees alone would yield an un-
failing support. In case of hostilities and pursuit, the
innumerable dense and tangled hammocks, thickets, and lily
ponds, where the whole tribe might baffle the pursuit of vast-
ly superior numbers, render the Big Cypress, as a strong-
hold, almost impregnable.
ROUTES FROM THE BIG CYPRESS TO THE
The country between the Big Cypress and the Galoosahatchee
is principally prairie ; with ponds, marshes, pine and oak
islands, &c., scattered more or less thickly over its surface.
This region, as well as that in the vicinity of Choalapulka, has
• From the reports of Lieut. Hvunphreys, Top. Engrs. and Lieut. Hartsuflfj Second Artillery.
30 ROUTES FROM THE BIG CYPRESS TO THE CALOOSAHATCHEE.
been much used by the Seminoles as a hunting ground.
During late explorations, few traces of Indians have been seen.
Here and there, hunting lodges have been found, but no per-
manent villages, nor recently cultivated fields.
A wagon road runs nearly west, across the prairie, from
Fort Simon Drum ; forking at a distance of about four miles
from the post ; the left branch leading to Fort Myers^ and the
right to Fort Deynaud. The former, for six miles, passes
over prairie dotted with willow and pine islands; the re-
maining distance is through pine woods, with patches of
prairie, clumps of cypress, and some willow and lily ponds.
During dry seasons it is good, smooth and hard. In wet
seasons it is covered wiiii water, and the ground becomes so
soft as to be entirely impracticable for wagons.
The branch to Fort Deynaud passes over a country in all
respects similar to that just described.
Nine miles east of Okoloacoochee, on the road to Fort
Shackelford, a wagon trail turns off north towards Fort
Thompson. For seven miles from the point of leaving the
Fort Shackelford road the country is low prairie, with
numerous flag ponds; the whole boggy and impassable in
the wet season. The rest of the way is through palmettos
and pine islands, with patches of prairie. The pines increase
in size and number till within a mile of Fort Thompson.
Seventeen miles from Fort Thompson the road passes by
the remains of an old Indian town, from which a trail runs
to another four miles further west. The first place would be
a suitable location for a Fort ; the country being high, and
well timbered with pine and cypress. Palmettos grow near
by in sufficient quantity for building.
The route followed by Capt. Ker, between the Caloosa-
hatchee and the western border of the Big Cypress, is not so
good as either of the roads above mentioned ; a considerable
portion of it being over wet prairie and soft ground.
ROUTES FROM FORT THOMPSON TO FORT MEADE.
The Cahosahatchee can be forded, at most seasons of the
year, at a place two hundred yards east of Fort Thompson.
The river at the ford is about twenty-five yards wide-, flow-
ing between abrupt hmestone banks. During the dry
months there are only one or two feet of water, but marks
upon the trees indicate that the depth is sometimes as great
as nine feet.
Two miles from the crossing the routes to Fort Meade
diverge. The right hand fork follows the Fort Center
road over the prairie as far as the Tlathlopo2:>'kahatchee
or Fish Eating Creeh ; which, where the road strikes it, is
thirty yards in width, and at low water a foot deep. In the
rainy seasons the depth of the water is four or five feet.
The banks are low, and on either side it is swampy for
about a hundred yards. Ten miles from Fish Eating Creek,
over open prairie, conducts to Oood Water ^ where the road
passes through five hundred yards of boggy and difficult
ground. Continuing for twenty miles over prairie, sand
hills, and pine country, the trail leads to a marsh of con-
siderable extent, in which the South Prong of the Big
Charley Popka takes its rise. The course from there is north-
easterly, for seven miles, to Lake Istokpoga.
A better route, as far as this place, might be obtained by
leaving the road to the right, after crossing Fish Eating
Creek, and keeping a more westwardly course for ten or
twelve miles, so as to pass to the west of Good Water; then
to take a direct course about north ten degrees east to the
* From a map and report of a reconnoissance by Lieut. Benson, Second Artillery.
82 ROUTES FROM FORT THOMPSON TO FORT MEADE.
northwest shore of the Lake. Such a route would pass over
a higher and more favorable country, and avoid the boggy-
ground in the neighborhood of Good Water and the South
After leaving the lake, the road runs in a northwest
direction for a few miles till it enters the marshy grounds
between the Middle and South Prongs of the Big Charley
Popka. These grounds are impassable in the wet season.
In approaching the Middle Prong some high pine country
is traversed; sand hills appearing to the right. Entering
these sand hills, the route passes over a high black jack
ridge, a mile or two west of a string of small lakes that con-
nect the waters of LoclLapopka and Istokpoga. The course
is then more to the west, on the ground between the low
country of the Middle Prong and the sand hills to the
northeast. The country between the Middle and North
Prongs is higlier than that farther south. It is wooded with
pine and black-jack. In the vicinity^ of the North Prong
there are a few yards of boggy ground. On the north side
the country is a high pine region, with some palmetto and
black-jack, as far as the Fort Meade and Kissimmee road.
This road is followed for five or six miles to Bowlegs Creeh,
over which there is a bridge. The ground, for some two
hundred yards east of the creek, is low and boggy. To the
west, as far as Peas Greek, the road is good ; passing first over
a pine and palmetto region, then over pine and black-jack,
and then over a rolling country covered with deadning. Peas
Creek, at the ford, is thirty yards wide, and at dry seasons
four feet deep. It can be crossed there without difiiculty.
Upon the western bank is the site of Fort Meade.
The other route from Fort Thompson to Fort Meade is
better and more direct. It follows the left hand fork, from
the place where the road branches a short distance north of
the Caloosahatchee, and keeps in a north-westwardly direction
for nearly thirty miles over the Big Prairie to the road from
Fort Meade to Fort Myers, which it follows to the former place.
ROUTE FROM FORT MEADE TO FORT MYERS.*
After leaving Peas Creek the roate follows a blazed trail ;
crossing at a distance of three miles a small branch where
the ground is boggy for a little distance. This might be
turned by keeping more to the east. A mile and a half be-
yond is Bowlegs Creek, which, at the ford, is five or six
yards wide, and at high water from five to six feet deep.
At most seasons, the depth is not greater than three or three
and a half feet. There are about two hundred yards of low
ground bordering the creek, when a high pine and palmetto
country begins and extends to the Little Charley Popka.
Here, at dry seasons, there is no water at the ford : in rainy
ones it is about six yards wide and five feet deep. The banks
are sloping, and the countr}^, for a few hundred yards south,
low but not boggy. Some very high palmettos grow near by.
From this place to the Big Charley Popka, the road passes
generally through a high pine and palmetto region.
Five or six miles from the first creek, is a small lagoon
containing good water. At the crossing of the Big Charley
Popka the stream is twenty yards wide, and, during dry sea-
sons, about four and a half feet deep. At high water the
depth is as great as ten or twelve feet, and a good deal of care
must be observed in endeavoring to cross. The banks are
sloping ; on the south side rather low, and fringed with live
oak. The ford, at this place, is said to be the best that can
be found on the creek. The ground, for three hundred
yards, is low prairie. Two miles beyond is Oak Creek,
* From a map anrl report of a reconnoissance made by Lieut. Benson. Sd ArtUleiy.
84 ROUTE PROM FORT MEADE TO FORT MYERS.
which is six yards wide, and at high water three or four feet
deep. Three miles further south, is a small run where the
ground is boggy for a short distance. The bog can be
turned above and below the trail. The road then passes
over pine and palmetto country — with occasional ponds, dry
at most seasons — to the Big Prairie, from the border of
which it is about twelve miles to the Tsalopopkaha tehee or
IVoui Ealing Creek. In the rainy season, the creek is five
yards wide and about four feet deep, and easy to ford. In.
the very dry months it contains no water. The banks are
covered with live oak. From this place the road passes
over prairie and pine barren to the southern. fork of Trout
Eating Creek ; five miles distant. This branch is generally
dry. The country along the route is prairie for about two
miles further, when a pine and palmetto region commences,
and extends to the Caloosahatchee opposite Fort Myers.
From Bowlegs Creek to Big Prairie the route is blazed.
From there, for seven miles, to the pine island, it is staked,
and trenches dug in a direction 'parallel with the course, at
intervals of three hundred yards. Passing through the west
end of the pine island, the trees are blazed for a distance of
two or three hundred yards. To the point of entering the
pine woods south of the branch of Trout Eating Creek,
twelve miles beyond, the route is staked or blazed, accord-
ing as it passes over prairie or through the pines. The
whole road from Fort Meade may be called a good one.
Three or four creeks would require bridging, to render it
practicable at all seasons. There is very little boggy coun-
try to be passed through. The distance by the trail from
Fort Meade to Fort Myers is about eighty-five miles.
ROUTE FROM FORT MYERS TO FORT JUPITER/
Fort Myers is on the south bank of the Caloosahatchee,
fifteen miles from its mouth. A wagon road leads from the
post to Forts Deynaud and Thompson, passing over a coun-
try, low in some places, but generally good. A better road
still would be obtained by following an Indian trail that runs
parallel to the wagon route, a mile or two south.
As high up the river as Fort Deynaud, the Caloosahatchee
is navigable for vessels of considerable size ; the depth of the
channel being, in few places, as little as twelve feet. Four
miles above Fort Myers, the river narrows to less than one
half its former width, and a string of small islands commen-
ces, extending for two miles higher up. Just below the
islands there is an extensive sand bar, upon which the water
is quite shallow. The bar may be avoided by skirting the
northern bank. The deepest part of the channel lies on this
side of the river, and, in passing the islands, it is a good rule
to keep them all to the south. For five miles above the
islands, the banks on both sides are very low and lined with
a thick grove of mangroves, and, on the north side, some
cabbage palmettos. The nature of the country then suddenly
changes, and, for the remainder of the distance to Fort Dey-
naud, the river flows between steep banks from five to tea
feet in height, covered with cabbage palmettos, cypress, live
oak, and pine, with a very rank growth of saw palmettos.
* The information in regard to the Caloosahatchee River, and the portion of the route
between this river and the mouth of Fish Eating Creek, is taken from the reports of Lieuts.
Hartsuff, Vincent, and Weed, 2d Artillery — that in regard to Lake Okeechobee, from the
reports and maps of Lieut. Gunnison, Topographical Engineers, and Capt. Allen and Lieut.
Benson, Second Artillery. The description of the country east of Lake Okeechobee, is
from a report by Lieut. Haines, 2d Artillery.
S6 ROUTE FROM FORT MYERS TO FORT JUPITER.
Eighteen miles above Fort Myers, on the north side, is a
point where a landing may be effected. The place furnishes
a good camp ground. The water loses its brackish taste, and
the current is more rapid than it is below. Between the
islands and Fort Deynaud, the river is exceedingly crooked,
and, at some points, wliere the direction suddenly changes
bars have been formed at the elbows. The channel, however,
can be readily distinguished.
Many snags and other obstructions have been already re
moved, and an expenditure of a moderate amount of labor
would make the river easily navigable, for vessels of any
required size, from the mouth to Fort Deynaud.
From Fort Deynaud there is a good wagon road, which
continues along the north side of the river till opposite Fort
Thompson, where it turns off in a north-easterly direction
over prairie — generally wet — towards Fish Eating Creek,
The road, after leaving the river, crosses two or three small
branches, whose banks are fringed with cabbage palmettos,
brush, and a few scattering live oaks. The last pine is about
eight miles from Fort Thompson, on the banks and near the
head of the most northerly branch of the Caloosahatchee.
Between this river and Fish Eating Creek, the larger portion
of the prairie is at times submerged, and the ground almost
always saturated with water. A single day's rain will cause
a sensible rise in the branches, and in those places that are
rather lower than the general level. Some distance before
arriving at Fish Eating Creek, its course can be traced b}'-
cypress swamps, and a peculiar growth of brush and small
timber. From the point of the river first seen from the road,
to where the latter intersects it — three-quarters of a mile
below — the south bank is fringed with scattering live oaks
and a few cypress. The road strikes the river at the only
point where it can be approached, and here, during the wet
season, the ground would be very boggy for a quarter of a
mile back from the banks. The stream at the crossing is,
during low water, twenty yards wide and a foot deep ; the
EOUTE FROM FORT MYERS TO FORT JUPITER. 37
bottom is composed of shifting sand, which forms bars
changing at every considerable rise. The channel is much
obstructed by old trees. The river from this point makes a
bend towards the north, and the road keeps on the south side
of it, two or three miles from its banks, to avoid boggy
ground, till it again strikes it near Fort Center^ six or seven
miles below, where further progress, on land, is barred by an
The site of Fort Center is immediately upon the bank of
the creek, upon an elevated plateau eight feet in height, and
extending more than a hundred yards back to a mound
thirty feet high, and about a hundred and twenty-five feet in
diameter at the base ; covered with a dense growth of saw
palmetto. To the west is a slight depression for a hundred
yards, and then higher ground extending two hundred
yards further. The nearest pine in sufficient quantity for
building is twelve miles distant, and there are no accessible
palmettos within two miles, excepting a very few that are
scattered here and there on and about the mound. The
country at Fort Center is much higher and is better suited
for a post than any other point near the western shore of
Lake Okeechobee, but it is a sickly position and difficult of
approach during the wet season.
Between the Fort and the mouth of the river, there are no
obstructions excepting occasional floating masses of water
lily, which can be forced aside with an oar. The stream is
very crooked ; from fifteen to thirty-five yards wide, and in
most places more than nine feet deep at low water ; nowhere
less than about four feet deep. The banks are sloping and
composed of dark spongy loam. They are seldom well de-
fined, and never rise more than two feet above low water.
Excepting at Fort Center, where the south bank is fringed
with live oak, not a tree of any size grows upon either bank
for some miles from the mouth. Below the point where the
road from Fort Thompson crosses the river, there is no place
'88 aOinSTWMi FUKriyMSTD FOBT JLPlfHL
'vhere it eas be appraaehed on faoi3EJnek, exceptiBg on 1^
soudMni adc, at Fort Craiter. At high trater, nearfj the en-
tire coastry. for mOes on eitber ade, is eompleteiT sabmexged.
A<3tJS5 tiie month of the lirer is a oom|M c l ^saoMi bar. orcr
'wbxii boats dravingbetweoi three and f^ar 59et can ctobe,
at ibe lowest stages <rf tiie water, to Le^e Ok
I/ihe fjHaseaiititee preset^ a superik^s cf Tie_ - ..re fatzn-
dred aqiuaie milea. Its average depth at krr water b aboot
twelve feet. The sorroondiBg ooraitrr is bat Ettle above its
ear£ioe, and is moetlv sabmerged during the wel se^»on,
▼hen the wats" in the lake rises, sranetimes, three feet above
&e ordinarr level Frcmi near the month of Ffeh Eath^
C^'eek. anrand north as hat as Oohancy Bay, the lake is hat-
d««d b V a bar of while sand : at low water, from, ten to
thirty feet wide, and from one to fimr feet in ho^it. Baek
of dis b a hammock, aboot a hundred yards acros. ai^
behind this, a swamp Tarying in width from five Imndred
yards to two or three nm^. From Cohajicy Bay to Cypreas
Point, die bar and hammock eontimie the same, bat the
swamp B repiaoe»i by sawgrass marsh, a narrow tongne from
the Eveigiadis ranniEg as tar nrath as this plaoe.* Fjom
Cyprras Point aroond towards the sooth and sonth-west
the shore is much les dearly defined- The Everglades foroi
4ie general boondaiy, but no disdnct line marks the division
between thk region and the snr^ce of the lake : thesooihem
portion of Ae latter being much grown np with grass. Two
or three pointe of the sonth and west shores have high
sandv beaches iar a mile or two. There are several ontlets
near the sonthem eajd : some of these at the month are fcwrty
or fiftv vards wide and several feet deep, bat are nav^ai^
fijr only a few hnndred yards, on aoconnt of the tangled
weeds. At the extreme soathem point there is one eighty
varda in width and liavis^le for half a mile.
EOUTE FROM FORT MYERS TO FORT JUPITER. 39
The Kissimmee River is the largest and most important of
the streams that have their outlet in Lake Okeechobee. It
receives the drainage of a considerable extent of country,
and establishes a communication, for vessels of small size, be-
tween the lake and the region for a hundred miles north of
it. It empties into a little bay at the northern extremity of
the lake. The sand bar at the entrance to this bay can be
crossed at low water by vessels of six feet draught.*
A growth of cypress, more or less dense, extends almost
entirely around the lake, along or near its shore. There are
also occasional ash and palmetto trees ; the latter being more
numerous in the neighborhood of Fort McRae than at any
other point. At this place also the beach is higher and
wider than elsewhere; a portion of it not being subject to
overflow during high stages of the water.
The lake may be traversed with canoes when the surface
is smooth. In passing from Fort Center to the eastern
shore — the distance across, which is more than forty-two
miles, being too great for a single day's row — two courses
may be taken ; one towards the northern edge, where places
to camp upon can be found along the beach, and the other
towards Observation Island^ which is fourteen miles southeast
from the mouth of Fish Eating Creek. This island is high
and covered with large trees. The ground is dry, and the
place a good one for a camp.
The only continuous route between the eastern shore of
• This river and the lakes near its head have been explored and reported upon by Lieut.
Benson, Second Anillery. From the mouth to Lake Kissimmee, the channel is exceedingly
tortuoue. At ordinary stages of the water the width of the stream varies from nine to fifty
yards; the depth from four to sixteen feet, and the current from half a mile to three miles
per hoar. The banks are generally from three to five feet high, fringed with live oak, maple,
cabbage, palmetto, and elder ; and the country, a few yards back, low and boggy. The only
eligible sites for posts are the locations of Forts Kis.simmee and Basinger, and a point on the
•west bank, a few miles below the latter place. Boats to be employed on this river should
not be more than sixty or seventy feet long, nor of greater draught than three or four feet.
The only pine wood that can be obtained is in the neighborhood of Fort Basinger. Lakes
Kissimmee and Cypress and the strait connecting them are navigable in all places for vessels
of four feet draught.
40 ROUTE FROM FORT MYERS TO FORT JUPITER.
Lake Okeecliobee and Fort Jupiter, that has been traversed
and reported upon, leads nearly west from Fort McRae to
Oeneral Eustis' Boad, and along that road to the Fort. The
trail passes over the hammock that borders the beach ; here
a hundred yards wide. This hammock can be passed on
foot by wading from one cypress root to another, and
making use of the dead branches of trees. The marsh be-
yond is about a mile and a-half wide, having the same
character as the Everglades ; the sawgrass being six feet in
height ; the water of variable depth, and the mud so soft
that a pole can be thrust down with the hand to a depth of
from six to ten feet. This marsh can be crossed only at dry
seasons, and then with great difficulty, by men on foot,
though unincumbered by arms or burdens of any descrip-
tion. East of the marsh, the route, for five miles, passes
over a low pine country, with occasional ponds and marshes
that can be easily turned. It then crosses another difficult
marsh, a quarter of a mile wide. From surveys that have
been made in the vicinity it appears that this marsh might
be avoided by keeping a mile or two to the north. A high
pine and palmetto region then commences ; continuing as
far as the point where the trail from the lake intersects
General Eustis^ route. This route traverses a low and some-
what marshy country, but a road practicable for wagons,
during a greater portion if not all of the year, could be
easily constructed upon it.
The old bridge at the crossing of the Locha Hatchee being
now impracticable, it is necessary to ford the stream at
a place half a mile above. The crossing is bad ; the bottom
being muddy and banks boggy. The depth of water is be-
tween three and four feet. A bridge thirty yards in length,
with a causeway of a hundred yards at each end, would be
required to make the road a good one.
The present site of Fort Jupiter being to the east of Jones'
Greek, the new road leaves the old trail to the left and
crosses the creek at a point three miles south of Fort Jupiter.
ROUTE FROM FORT MYERS TO FORT JUPITER. 41
The crossing is easy, and the remainder of the distance over
a good country.
Should it be considered desirable at any time to establish
a line of communication across this portion of the State, the
route just discussed possesses, in many respects, important
advantages. The travelling distance by it, from coast to
coast, is about one hundred and fifty miles, and of this dis-
tance nearly one hundred miles can be traversed by vessels
of considerable size, at all seasons. A tolerable wagon road,
that would be practicable, for the transportation of troops
and supplies, during the greater part if not the whole of the
year, could be made without difficulty, over all but a mile or
two of the remaining distance. The sawgrass marsh along
the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee interposes, for a mile
and a-half, an obstacle that it would require a vast deal of
time, labor, and expense to surmount. During the establish-
ment of the block-house at Fort McRae, this marsh was ex-
amined as far north as Cohancy Bay, and found to be im-
practicable below that point. The maps of the Land Office
indicate that farther north the difficulties would not be so
great, and the Surveyor-General of Florida has furnished
information in regard to the strip of country in question,
that would seem to show that a wagon road might be made
to cross at certain points with a comparatively small amount
of trouble. An assistant to the Surveyor-General, Mr.
Reyes, has explored in this vicinity, and reports that there
would be no difficulty in getting a road to the lake at either
of three points ; at Cohancy Bay, or at places seven miles
and twelve miles respectively farther north. For eighteen
miles along the shore, the beach is firm sand, being similar
to the Atlantic opposite St. Augustine. Cohancy Bay has
plenty of water, and is a good shelter for boats or vessels in
any storm. Mr. Reyes is of opinion that it would require
much less labor to make a causeway here than was expended
opposite to Fort Kissimmee, by General Twiggs' command,
in 1840, in making a crossing there. The causeway at Fort
42 ROUTR FROM FORT MYERS TO FORT JUPITER.
Kissimmec is, for about nine hundred yards, through soft
marsh. At this place he thinks that the marsh would be
less than five hundred yards across, and some of it firm.
It has been strongly recommended by officers who have
served in this part of Florida, that a small steamer should be
employed upon Lake Okeechobee, in case operations are to
be conducted in its neighborhood. The parts of such a
vessel might be readily transported up the Caloosahatchee
and across the country to Fort Center, where they could be
put together and launched.
The necessity of suspending movements upon the lake
during rough weather; its exposure to sudden storms, and
the few places of shelter afforded, render canoes and small
boats somewhat inefficient. At all times they are necessa-
rily slow, and their use attended with much labor and
fatigue. It is evident, from the numerous traces of Indian
camps and vestiges of canoes found along the shores of the
lake and upon the banks of the Kissimmee river, that this
route is a favorite one with the Seminoles in passing from
their haunts in the Big Cypress and the Everglades to the
regions north of the Okeechobee. A vessel that could com-
mand this extensive sheet of water would interfere with,
these movements of the Indians, and considerably narrow
their field of operations.